Rivalry? What Rivalry?

Apr 13 2006

Did you know that Quick.Step and Davitamon-Lotto have a rivalry? No, for real, it’s true (search “rivalry”). Of course, after this spring classics season, I wouldn’t blame you for being unaware.

Let’s count up Davitamon’s classics wins between Nokere Koerse (I know you’ve never heard of it, but it marks the official start of the classics season) and now. Ready? One: Bert Roesems at Nokere Koerse (that race you’ve never heard of). Two: there is no number two.

Now let’s see what classics Quick.Step has won between then and now: Milan-San Remo (Pozzatto), E3 Prijs (Boonen), a stage of Da Panne (deJongh), Flanders (Boonen) and Scheldeprijs (Boonen). If you count the Belgian opening weekend races, tack on another win (Nuyens at KBK). If you want to talk about podiums, things only get more grim: Quick.Step’s got 5 minor placings to Davitamon’s 3 (and each of those is a 3rd).

Now, granted, it’s been a bit tough for D-L this spring, between Steels’ compound fracture (scroll down), Robbie’s rib, and VanPet’s DQ and recent tumble. But the team does have other riders. Gert Steegmans has respectable finishing speed, and Fred Rodriguez is one three active riders to have straight up beat Petacchi in a group sprint. But where have they been? Steegman’s notched a couple 3rds (including his baffling loss at Stage 1 of Da Panne), and Freddy…well, last time I saw him, he was working on his tan on the other side of the world. Heck, Chris Horner’s strong enough on the climbs to be a longshot at all three of the remaining spring one-days, but he’s not penciled in to start until Fleche-Wallonne. Who’s drawing up these race rosters?

I’ll assume Davitamon boss Marc Couke knows. His company is, after all, funnelling millions of euros into the team, and he seems largely unconcerned (scroll to “Davitamon”) with their abject failure so far this year. So I dunno, maybe there is room for optimism, with three classics left, and Cadel Evans, Chris Horner and a hopefully recovered Robbie Mac ready for later in the season.

But, as I see it, things are not well in Davitamonland. With your riders crammed into clown suits, Boonen bragging about kicking your team’s backside Bode Miller-style, your ace looking to jump ship, and even his wife (search “Angelique”) critizing the squad, something’s gotta change now. What should Davitamon do? Well, look what happened to the Red Sox after they fired Grady Little. I’m sure there’s plenty of other teams out there who would love to have Marc Sergeant in their team car. I can’t imagine his apparent solution, trading VanPet for Hoste (scroll to “Davitamon”) will be any more successful.

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